by Joan Saunders & Tania Tomasewska –
Born and raised on Vancouver Island, I now can admit that I never liked salmon until my late 20s. The problem was that I never had it prepared in a way I enjoyed until I met a good friend who became my “salmon sensei.”
A fisherman and teacher, he taught me that salmon doesn’t need to be complicated and should never, ever be cooked too much or it becomes dry and – according to me in my early years – tastes like sawdust.
As we’re now well and truly into barbecue season, salmon is an excellent and fairly straightforward dinner. And it looks impressive! If you whip up some salads with some lovely local ingredients to go along with the fish, you’re truly experiencing our West Coast at its best: fresh and beautifully simple.
The first time I received great grades from my sensei was with Teriyaki Marinated Salmon. It’s easy, quick to prepare and doesn’t take too long to marinate. With it I like to make Grilled Potato Salad. It sounds strange to have a hot salad, but the dressing gives it a tangy kick and the grilling adds a crunchy, smoky edge. It has bacon as well, which is always a hit here in my family of carnivores, but you can choose to leave it out or add veggie or turkey bacon instead. With a green salad or roasted vegetables, you’ve got a fabulous meal … all prepared on the barbecue. After all, what’s not to love about a dinner that involves a minimal number of dishes?
Another salmon dish that has become a staple in our house year round is Salmon with Pesto – it’s flexible as you can always bake it instead of using a barbecue. Everything goes into a foil packet so the salmon stays very moist and the pesto gives it a bit of a kick. You can make your own pesto, of course, but I generally don’t fuss and just buy whatever type strikes my fancy from the grocery store.
I’ve made this for as many as eight people as it can all be prepared beforehand then thrown on the barbecue when you’re ready. That will give you more time to enjoy a glass of wine and savour our lovely summer evenings. Add a baguette or focaccia, some other veggies like local grilled asparagus and you’ve got it made. For dessert? Strawberries or whatever is in season. Top the berries off with some ice cream or a bit of whipped cream and you’re good to go.
Like my salmon sensei says: keep it simple, keep it local and you’re bound to get top marks at your next barbecue. And don’t forget: “what grows together, goes together” (including grapes, veggies and fish), so I’ve asked Tania from our Off the Vine column to share a few B.C. wine pairing ideas at the end of this column!
Teriyaki Marinated Salmon
From Canadian Living’s Country Cooking by Elizabeth Baird and the Food Writers of Canadian Living
Salmon for 4
Marinade: ¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rye whisky
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
In bowl, whisk together oil, whisky, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper and garlic. Arrange salmon in shallow dish. Pour marinade over. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or 30 minutes at room temperature. (I put foil in dish, then slide off extra marinade into dish when I put the fish on the BBQ.) Place fish on foil on medium high setting for about 10 minutes per inch, or until fish is opaque and flakes easily.
Grilled Potato Salad
5 peeled, cubed potatoes
8 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1 cup chopped celery
3 green onions, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp pepper
Cook potatoes. Combine potatoes, bacon, celery and onions in bowl. Mix other ingredients in small bowl and pour over potato mix. Mix all together. Put in double thick aluminum foil packet. Grill about 20 minutes on medium. Serves 4-6.
Salmon Baked in a Foil Parcel with
Green Beans and Pesto (serves 2)
From Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver
2 handfuls of green beans
2 salmon fillets, skin off, boneless
2 tbsp pesto
salt and pepper
cherry tomatoes, halved (about 8 total)
Trim beans. Halve one of the lemons. Prepare double sheets of aluminum foil. Put a handful of green beans in middle of the aluminum foil. Lay one piece of salmon on top, spoon a good tablespoon of pesto over top. Drizzle with olive oil, pile on the tomatoes, squeeze over the juice from one of the lemon halves, season with salt and pepper. Pull the foil edges together and scrunch up to make a sealed packet. Repeat with second fillet. Cook on medium high BBQ or in oven (400°) for 15-20 minutes. Either serve in packet or unwrap carefully and plate.
Wine Pairing Ideas from “Off the Vine”
Keep it simple with bright wines, fresh acidity, a bit of texture, soft tannins and low alcohol. Sparkling wine, rosé, riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc, grüner veltliner, gamay noir and pinot noir will be your friends here. If you’ve already got some “House” favourites in these styles then you’re sorted.
Sparkling wine goes with anything, any time. Rosé bubbles in particular pair nicely with grilled food.
• Wine Islands – Go uber local with traditional method, hand-crafted white or rosé sparkling from Invinity Sparkling Wine House or light Sparkling Pinot Gris from Church &
• Beyond in B.C. – Haywire 2016 The Bub; Sage Hills Vineyard Brut Sauvage; Nichol Vineyard 2018 Blanc de Noir Extra Brut Rosé.
There’s nothing like a dry rosé (be it soft or crisp style) for any picnic or barbie.
• Wine Islands – Rathjen Cellars 2018 Rosé; Unsworth Vineyards Rosé; Sea Star Blanc
de Noir Rosé.
• Beyond in B.C. – Joie Farm 2019 Re-Think Pink Rosé; Winemaker’s Cut 2019 Rosé; Bartier Bros Rosé.
To play with the teriyaki flavors, tangy mayonnaise vinegar dressing and smokiness try a dry riesling, pinot gris or blanc, white pinot noir, albariño or verdejo.
• Wine Islands – Kutataś Wines Pinot Gris or Blanc de Noir (white pinot noir).
• Beyond in B.C. – Little Farm Mulberry Tree Vineyard Riesling; Martin’s Lane Winery Naramata Ranch Riesling; Spearhead Winery Pinot Gris or White Pinot Noir; Sage Hills Vineyard Pinot Gris; Terravista Vineyards Fandango (albariño/verdejo blend) or Figaro (roussanne/viognier blend); Anthony Buchanan 2018 Lawson Pinot Blanc.
To match the fragrant pesto, green beans and asparagus, think green tones and crisp acidity.
• Wine Islands – Alderlea Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc; Averill Creek Vineyard Pinot Grigio.
• Beyond in BC – Winemakers’ Cut 2018 Sauvignon Blanc; Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc; Culmina Family Estate Winery Unicus Grüner Veltliner; La Stella Vivace Pinot Grigio.
Pinot noir or gamay noir are fantastic with salmon or steelhead. I’d lean here to soft juicier styles highlighting red fruit (rather than deep, dark and brooding barnyard flavors).
• Wine Islands – Any Kutataś pinot noir;
Blue Grouse 2017 Estate Pinot Noir; Unsworth Vineyards
2017 Pinot Noir.
• Beyond in BC – Kitsch Pinot Noir; Spearhead Winery Pinot Noir Cuvée; Mission Hill Family Estates 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir; Haywire Gamay Noir; Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Gamay Noir or Pinot Noir.